Forest Green boss Cooper concedes defeat in automatic promotion bid

Mark Cooper believes Forest Green's defeat against MK Dons has ended their automatic promotion hopes.

Mark Cooper believes Forest Green’s defeat against MK Dons has ended their automatic promotion hopes.

Russell Martin’s late strike, underpinned Dons’ automatic promotion ambitions and extinguished hopes of a top-three finish for Rovers.

Kieran Agard’s 21st goal of the season and Martin’s goal with three minutes to go pushed the Dons up to second after George Williams had earlier pulled Rovers level.

Rovers’ boss Cooper conceded defeat as he now looks ahead to the final six games of the regular season, with the play-offs looking a safe bet.

‘We could win six games, but I think automatics are too much,’ admitted Cooper.

‘We just have to concentrate on winning as many games as we can and look forward to Crawley on Saturday, today has gone – we probably deserved a point, but we didn’t get it.

‘We didn’t get the basics right today, but we were still in with a chance of getting a point without playing well.

‘When you get that close to a point – we are looking for a little bit of character – and I’m looking for the experienced players to see it out.

‘But it was too easy – a cross in the box and a free shot for the second.

We played a good team, who beat us without playing well.

‘ Meanwhile, Tisdale lauded his side, who jumped up to second after their win in Gloucestershire He said: ‘We upped our game for ten minutes and well done to the players.

‘We certainly edged the first half, it was 1-0 and we were deserving of it.

The second half Forest Green changed their pattern and it put us on our heels a bit.

‘You have to accept that is going to happen, the opposition are entitled to try something.

‘They did it.

We found ourselves at 1-1 with 20-25 minutes to go and I am really pleased we brought Chuks and Robbie Simpson on.

We thought we would go for it.

‘ An error involving Forest Green keeper Lewis Ward and captain Gavin Gunning handed Agard a first-half gift, with Tisdale admitting his side were fortunate.

Tisdale added: ‘We got lucky on that, it takes all sorts.

‘The winning goal looked like it was just a cross into the box and there is shamozzle and it is in the back of the net ‘But trace through the 15 seconds before and lots of players were doing a tiny bit extra to create something.

It was a real team effort even though it might look untidy and it was – to make sure the ball ends up in the back of the net.’